Did you know that inside your body right now there are between 40 and 300 trillion live bacteria? Yes. Live bacteria. And most of it lives inside the gut - a thriving hotspot for micro-organisms that keep your immune system chugging along and disease at bay. Keeping your gut healthy is key not just for your general health, but it can also influence weight, skin, and so much more. So how can we protect and support and boost our gut? Here’s how probiotics can help.
What are Probiotics?
Essentially, they’re living microorganisms or bacteria. How micro? Take the number 300 trillion. Now try to imagine how big that number actually is. Got it? All of those micro-organisms are estimated to only make up 1-3 percent of our total body mass. These microorganisms aren’t just small, they’re also critical for human health and fighting disease and infection.
What form do probiotics take?
Probiotics are typically in the form of bacteria, and certain substances like yeasts and fungi also function as probiotics. As such, it’s possible to create live cultures of probiotics through the process of fermentation. That being said - not all fermented foods actually contain probiotics - like beer and wine for example usually have the probiotic element removed. But many do. Here are some everyday foods and drinks that contain probiotics:
Why do our bodies need probiotics?
Basically, all these microorganisms form a complex community within the gut called the microbiome. Think of it as an ecosystem that is made up of hundreds of species of bacteria. This community or ecosystem of bacteria performs important health functions like manufacturing important vitamins like vitamin B and K. The gut also transforms fibre into short-chain fats that build the gut wall and assist in the body’s metabolic function. These important fats feed and support the immune system - allowing for healthy immune responses to disease and foreign viruses. And we all know how important that is these days.
How many probiotics do our bodies need?
It’s the million-dollar question that science is still figuring out. There still is no recommended daily intake amount for probiotics - but our knowledge of how important it is makes a strong case to include as much as possible in our diets.
Can probiotic supplements help?
The only bad news when it comes to probiotic foods is that they can often be unpleasant to taste or smell for some people. If you’re looking to include more probiotics in your diet, but simply cannot stand the taste, then you may want to look at how supplements can help. It’s easy to bypass the whole taste problem by taking probiotics in capsule or powder form.
Health benefits of Probiotic Supplements
As we learn more about the microbiome and its importance for our health, it’s becoming abundantly clear that having a balanced and healthy amount of bacteria is essential for a whole bunch of health reasons:
1. Improved digestive system
Probiotics play an important role in balancing the ‘right’ bacteria in your gut - which in turn promotes a healthy digestive system. Illness, medications, or a poor diet can easily lead to a build-up of ‘bad’ bacteria and throw the digestive system out of whack. Including probiotics in your diet, whether through food or supplements is the best way of keeping your digestive system on its feet.
2. Boost Immune system response
The immune system is fast becoming a health buzzword - and rightly so. It’s our body’s defence mechanism against viruses and bad bacteria. Healthy probiotic intake can strengthen the body’s ability to produce important natural antibodies and 'killer cells' that jump into action when faced with a threat. A study demonstrated that children who drink probiotic drinks containing Lactobacillus GG supplement saw a decrease in respiratory infections - drawing a clear connection between the immune response and probiotics.
3. Probiotics may help you lose weight
Probiotics affect the microbiome in several ways. One of these is preventing certain fats from being absorbed in the intestine. Instead of absorbing into the body - these fats are excreted instead of being stored in the body.
What probiotic supplements are best?
A quick online search will yield potentially thousands of options when it comes to probiotic supplements. It’s hard to know where to begin or what’s best. While many supplements are a combination of a variety of different strains - some are better at targeting specific health issues.
Supplements for constipation and IBS
Infrequent and difficult bowel movements can be helped with the following strains of probiotics: B. lactis, B. longum, and S. cerevisiae.
Supplements for weight loss
Balancing your microbiome by getting the right bacteria into your body can improve weight loss efforts, and probiotic supplements containing Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Probiotic supplements to boost the immune system
While all healthy probiotics are essential in boosting immunity, some may be more effective than others: Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus GG strains are known for reducing inflammation and chances of infection.
How long until I see the benefits?
This depends on your health and how much healthy gut flora is already populating your microbiome. If you’re coming off a poor diet, you may need to wait longer for your system to re-balance and the good bacteria to repopulate your gut. Take care to note the daily intake - seeing the benefits from probiotics can take time, and because much of our probiotic intake is burned up by our stomach acid entering the body - it's important to keep up the consumption over a long period.
Where to get probiotic supplements?
If you want to give probiotic supplements a try, getting them delivered to your door is easy. Visit our online store at Nourishme Organics and choose from a range of different probiotic supplements that promote a range of health benefits.